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Jewish Advocate Disappointed In Newton Synagogue's Cancellation02:29
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When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there's no such thing as an easy conversation — not even in Boston.

In Newton this week, a reform synagogue abruptly canceled a speaking appearance by Jeremy Ben-Ami, the executive director of J Street, a lobbying group known for its advocacy of a peaceful, two-state solution.

In an interview Wednesday with WBUR, the rabbi at Temple Beth Avodah, Keith Stern, said he was "utterly blind-sided" by the anger from some of his congregants after he agreed to host the speaker.

In response to what the rabbi called a small but influential group, synagogue leaders decided to cancel the event. Steven Maas, editor of the Jewish Advocate, a Boston-based weekly newspaper, was going to conduct the conversation with Ben-Ami. Maas says he too was taken back by the reaction.

"I didn't expect this to happen with a reform synagogue. But when it comes to Israel, opinion in the Jewish community is very divided. People are very passionate," Maas said.

Ben-Ami joined WBUR's Deborah Becker during Morning Edition Thursday. He says it's not a good sign that a small number of influential members in the American Jewish community can shut down dialogue on American foreign policy toward Israel.

This program aired on November 18, 2010.

Deborah Becker Twitter Host/Reporter
Deborah Becker is a senior correspondent and host at WBUR. Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.

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